How to stop stress eating creatively.

When stressed out do you engage in healthy ways to cope with stress or self-destructive ones as stress eating?

However many women I work with admit that during stressful times healthy lifestyle and healthy stress management habits go out of a window.

It is much easier to reach for food as a source of comfort and sooth yourself with food. Over time you may have developed this particular coping habit and when stress and uncertainty increase, you turn to what you know, especially if it has associations of a simpler and safer time in your lives.

In a crisis, we call friends and family members. Just the sound of a loved one’s voice can be soothing. In the everyday crises of our lives, it’s easy to come home after a long day of putting out fires and turn to something we know –food.

This is known as emotional eating, or "stress eating," or other terms that all refer to the consumption of food for reasons other than physical hunger and need for energy. Unfortunately, the ultimate comfort eating foods are often loaded with carbohydrates and fat – macaroni and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, etc.-- and come with strings attached -- stress fat.

And if you continue to use stress eating to comfort, the kilos keep adding on and then you need more comforting because now you have additional stress – necessity to deal with extra weight.

Most women would prefer to be managing stress in healthier ways, but when stress levels are high, many of us find it much more tempting to indulge in something delicious than exercising or meditating. 

Where to start to break that vicious comfort eating cycle?

Start by bringing more awareness to when and how you comfort yourself.

Have a range of soothing activities available to you, so that you feel like you have a choice. You may be in the habit of grabbing food on the way or as soon as you walk in the door. 

Try to break that self-destructive habit by developing a new healthy habit.

When ever you feel an urge to eat, and you are not psychically hungry do something totally different to redirect your attention – it doesn’t matter what it is (drink a glass of water, walk a dog, paint, or knit ) as long as it is completely different from your usual routine. Eating in response to your triggers is a habit; choosing to do something else breaks the cycle.

Make a list of activities that soothe you before you need them and start doing them on a regular basis.

Write down both simple and more complicated ideas; be sure to include a few that don’t require any preparation or equipment. You may have different ideas for home, work, and other settings. Add new activities to your list as you think of them. 

Creative alternatives to stress eating 
  • If you’re sad or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento.
  • If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.
  • If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath with aromatherapy oils, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
  • If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, knitting, painting, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).
Start small. Small things can make a big difference.

Use your imagination and be creative when you make your list. Brainstorm. Write down everything you can think of whether it’s practical or not.

Identify those times of the day that are most difficult for you and have your list handy. 

Transition times can be troublesome, such as transitioning from work to home, or home to work, and that mid-afternoon time when your energy needs a boost and all women are in danger to fall into stress-induced eating trap.  

Our lives are busy and often difficult. You are going to need comfort, so be proactive and figure out how to give it to yourself often in a healthy way.

Ready for Success?

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